Hello Readers, I am Larry Newman, Master Gardener with Chesterfield County Cooperative Extension. Perhaps you are thinking, “another garden dude telling me how to...

Hello Readers,

I am Larry Newman, Master Gardener with Chesterfield County Cooperative Extension. Perhaps you are thinking, “another garden dude telling me how to grow big tomatoes and go organic.” Not so fast, my fellow garden enthusiasts. The intent of my column is similar to the cooperative extension service, to share with you land-grant university information: information that can improve your landscape, reduce pests and yes, cause tomato envy at the next family picnic. I will also pass along dos and don’ts based on my successful and not-so successful endeavors.

It is now late June, but it is not too late to prune certain trees and shrubs. Plants are like puppies: both are cute when you first bring them home, but they grow up. Pruning corrects height and shape and removes dead and diseased branches, as well as rejuvenating older and less maintained plants. Visit www. ext.vt.edu and type “pruning calendar” in the search bar for additional information.

There are numerous hand pruners and loppers available as well as hand and mechanical hedge trimmers. My advice is to purchase a bypass pruner instead of an anvil pruner. Bypass pruners provide a slicing type of cut rather than a crushing one. Pruners, loppers and trimmers are like most tools: you need the right tool for the right job.

Do your research and purchase the pruner, lopper or hedge trimmer that fits your hands as well as your wallet. When the pruner package states “cuts up to one inch,” that means one inch of softer woods. Also, if you need to use both hands to cut the branch, the branch is either too large or your blade is dull.

Speaking of blades, they need sharpening. A handheld sharpener is critical for ensuring that your pruner performs as intended. All right, we have the pruner and the sharpener, but there is one critical piece missing.

Disinfectant spray. That is right, disinfectant spray. Spray pruners between both plants and cuts on the same plant when disease is present. Kind of like washing your hands during cold and flu season.

Now, that was not so bad, was it?  Until next time, remember, gardening is supposed to be fun.

Larry’s timely tip:  Be kind to your grass, sharpen your mower blade.